One-Pot Wonders

Kimchi Jjigae With Spam & Tofu

June 20, 2021
6 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

After watching the Netflix film Always Be My Maybe, I decided to combine all of my favorite ingredients (and memories) to create an "always be my kimchi jjigae" recipe. Kimchi jjigae is arguably the most common stew in Korea—full of kimchi, pork, and vegetables—and is a stalwart of Korean home cooking. The use of anchovy fillets in my recipe creates a deeply flavored broth without the need for anchovy stock, and both Spam and bacon add essential pork flavor to the dish.

Want to hear more about Korean-American food? On our new podcast Counterjam—a show that explores culture through food and music—host Peter J. Kim talks instant ramyeun hacks, kimchi-jjigae, cheonggukjang, and more with chef Roy Choi and comedian Margaret Cho—check out the episode here. James Park

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: I Didn’t Feel Connected to My Mom Until We Cooked Korean Food Together. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 ounces flat fillet anchovies in olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 5 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces (white and green parts divided)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 5 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 500 grams kimchi
  • 2 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 4 cups starchy water (see Step 4 in the Directions below)
  • 4 teaspoons Korean soup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 7 ounces Spam
  • 7 ounces extra-firm tofu, sliced
  • White rice, for serving
  1. Add the olive oil from the canned anchovies to a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Chop the anchovies and set them aside for later.
  2. Over medium heat, add the chopped garlic and the white parts from the scallions. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add chopped anchovies and onions to the pot and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add bacon and cook for another 3 minutes until the bacon fat renders out. Add kimchi, gochugaru, and white wine vinegar and cook for another 5 minutes until the kimchi starts to look translucent. Stir every minute or so.
  4. Add the starchy water and bring to a boil. (You can use plain water, but I highly recommend using the starchy water that you get after washing rice.) Add sliced spam and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Season with Korean soup soy sauce and sugar. If you don't have a Korean soup soy sauce, add salt, and adjust the seasoning to your preference. Don't use a regular soy sauce.
  6. Add tofu and simmer for 5 to 8 more minutes. Garnish with the remaining green parts from the scallions. Serve with rice.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Justine Lee
    Justine Lee
  • MillaAndersen

2 Reviews

MillaAndersen July 26, 2022
I love making this recipe when I am stressed out and need a comfort food, especially during school finals. I substituted 2 cups of starchy water with 2 cups of chicken stock, add sweet corn to temper the spice, and serve it over warm rice.
Justine L. June 20, 2021
Incredible!!! Came together super quickly and easily and disappeared in the same fashion too (my mom couldn't get enough).